Has Marina Del Rey Lost Its Creative Office Mojo? It’s The Cluster, Stupid.

We and other creative office developers started converting warehouses to creative office in Marina Del Rey in the mid 1990’s. The Marina was the next hot creative office area after Santa Monica. Creative companies escaped Santa Monica’s high rents by moving to Marina Del Rey creative office conversions. Most of the activity took place in the industrial area between Lincoln Boulevard and Redwood Avenue and Washington Boulevard and Maxella. At one time,  there was over 1 million square feet of creative office space in the Marina. In early 2001,  the dot com boom turned to bust; many tech companies failed, and vacancies surged. However, it was not the dot com bust that led to MDR’s loss of mojo. It was the housing boom. A land mine in the area’s zoning code allows twice the density for residential than commercial. Thousands of condos and lofts were built in the early and mid 2000’s. Some creative offices were demolished to make way for residential development.   Housing developers would pay a lot more for warehouse properties than creative office renovators would pay. The demolitions and absence of new creative office product caused the cluster of creative office companies to diminish. More exciting product was being developed in Culver City and now in Playa Vista. The MDR area is now called the Loft District or Artist District (there are no artists but just lofts that successful artists may live in). Despite all the rich amenities and growth in residential, the number of creative companies in the Marina has declined over time.  Make no mistake, creative companies like to cluster around each other.   Without a cluster–despite other amenities like restaurants–creative office cannot flourish.

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